Restorative practices is a movement slowly transforming troubled schools and troubled communities around the globe -- a movement replacing zero tolerance and other punishment-based and wildly ineffective practices that increase people's feelings of separation and alienation from one another.
We want the end of punitive high stakes testing that labels children, teachers and schools as failures. We do not want our tax dollars going to the pockets of testing and data companies. We refuse to allow our community-based public school be labeled as "failing."
The conversation about school reform in Washington is replete with big ideas -- glossy proposals for "accountability," putting the "students first," fixing "broken" schools, all in hopes of making America "competitive" again. Yet our schools are poorer than ever.
We should make equal educational opportunity a federal civil right for all students. This should include the right to a challenging curriculum, well-trained and effective teachers, and the funding to provide these essentials.
Most people have no clue what goes on in their local government. Everyone knows who the president is. But how many people can even name their representatives on their town council or school board without a Google search?
There are no silver bullets to solve the dropout crisis and blunt instruments often go too far. But when President Obama in his State of the Union address urged states to raise the legal dropout age, we cheered.
I do realize that just as these halls have the possibility of dimming my son's light, they also have the possibility -- and actually the intention of -- brightening my son's light and of giving him confidence, coping skills and pleasant memories.
Metal detectors at school entrances make many New York City schools feel more like prisons than places where young people want to be and contribute to the sense that these are not a place where people are respected.
As I attended President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night, I was not alone. This invitation was an honor, but my dedication to education is not exceptional or unique. Because, for all teachers, it is our students that keep us going.